What scars do you bear from your past?
A past you cannot change, a past the enemy of your soul seems to always want to use to taunt you. Some of you were sexually abused when you were young, and, just as devastating, some of you were ignored by the people you love. Others of you were given all the love necessary to carry you through the difficult years just like I was.
One thing is certain: everybody suffers.
Many, if not all, of my heroes, have been people who suffered. One such sufferer was my mother, who from the day of my birth, began a physical decline that progressively worsened. At the time of her death, I had never known anyone to suffer as much as she did and yet never complain.
A Couple of My Heroes
Another hero of mine is General Robinson Risner. For seven-and-a-half years, Risner was a prisoner-of-war in North Vietnam in a brutally inhumane prison, nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton by the American POW’s held there. It was in this hellhole that the North Vietnamese tortured captured servicemen, mostly American pilots who had been shot down, with methods indescribably cruel. Among other things, Gen. Risner was beaten, starved, and his arms were tied behind his back, then pressure was applied to the bindings until his chest literally split open. On more than one occasion, he was at the point of death.
Even though incarcerated and under threat of his life, Gen. Risner used a form of Morse code to tap out Bible verses on the concrete walls of his cell. The messages of the love of God and hope in Jesus were transmitted from cell-to-cell by the faint sound of a tap…tap…tap, infusing fellow prisoners with the will to survive.
Then there is my greatest Hero of all… Who, being the son of God and having the power to stop what was happening to Himself, did not. He was beaten, tortured, and killed. One may find His statue in a courtyard somewhere, but far more important is that His resurrected image is etched deeply into the fabric of our lives. This Man was scarred for the love of us all, and He was obedient unto death.
What about heroes like you?
“I’m no hero,” you say. Yet some of you suffer in ways beyond my understanding. You suffer quietly without complaining.
My list of heroes includes single parents, mothers, and fathers who, through stretched almost to the breaking point, still find time to nurture their children and teach them about God. My list includes divorcees who, having endured the unspeakable pain of a broken heart and a shattered relationship, have not blamed nor hated God.
Then there are those who have suffered physical wounds. In themselves, some wounds are not serious enough to cause death. However, if they are left unattended with no cleansing, no stitches, no healing salve, the hemorrhaging and infection can cause what the wound itself did not do, inevitable death.
The same is true for wounded hearts and souls. Some people live with “wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil,”(Isaiah 1:6 Today’s New International Version) Left to fester, wounds of the heart will kill.
Stepping Towards Healing
The first step in healing for a wounded soul is to choose to forgive. Forgiving is not based on feeling; it is a choice. We choose to forgive because we do not want to be bound to and controlled any longer by whomever or whatever has hurt us.
When you heal, the scar that follows will be a flashing neon sign, telling the world, “Hey, look, I got hurt, but I’ve got well. I survived my wound. And here’s my scar to prove it.”
The whole world gets hurt, but only the ones who are healed, only the man with the scar, the woman with the scar, the teenager with the scar can say, “I know how you feel. Let me help you get through this.”
Jesus does that with us. “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come… but no more so than the good times of His healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.”(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 The Message)
There are two kinds of suffering: suffering for a cause and suffering without a cause.
Pain without gain is the ultimate loss.
Finding Christ Amidst Suffering
What about you? Are your scars being wasted? Let me shout it loudly for all to hear: all human suffering, regardless of its source, can be turned in a positive direction.
Do not walk away from Christ. Instead, run to Him! Do not blame God when you are hurting; He is the One who can help you. Do not desert your faith; use it to find yourself, and in finding yourself, find complete healing through God for your body and soul. “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” (Ephesians 1:11–12 The Message)
A Restaurant Revelation
In a restaurant one day, some young people were ridiculing my disfigurement, and I became intensely humiliated as they mocked my scars. Suddenly the Spirit of Jesus in me began to speak to my heart.
“You don’t like them laughing at you?”
I thought, No, I don’t.
He said, “It was to set them free. You suffered for them, and the scars they laugh at were for them.”
“You don’t like it, do you? It’s not fair is it?”
“Lord, it’s not fair.”
Then He said to me, “Now you know how I feel.”
Christ Understands Your Pain
Could I have know what I know through riches? Would fame or power have taught me the lessons I have learned? Could I have understood the heart of Christ through success?
No. Only through these scars, wounds that are healed, have I come to know, to love, to adore, and to understand Jesus Christ.
Your pain need not be wasted. Let it lead you to an understanding of Christ Jesus Who was wounded for our transgression and bruised for our iniquities(Isaiah 53:5 King James Version).
He knows how we feel. Let Him show you His scars. He stands with palms up. Look at His hands. Look at His feet. See the wound in His side. He suffered all of that so that you could be healed.
When you are healed, do not waste your scars. Let your healing be the means of bringing healing to someone else’s life. Let your tragedy become a triumph for you. Be a hero as you stand tall in your faith.
Sometimes we feel that God has rejected us and Jesus has thrown us away. When you think that way, just remember that Jesus suffered for us. He was scarred for us, and He WILL NOT discard that for which He has sacrificed his life!